On Friday, Pro Football Hall of Famer Lem Barney was in Detroit, Michigan and said that the NFL would cease to exist in 10 to 20 years according to multiple sources. Barney apologized Sunday for these statements. Barney said,
"The other day, at the Sound Mind and Body Camp (a youth football camp), I
was asked about my thoughts on football and safety, while I made comments I believe to be truthful it is apparent to me now that
the camp was not the forum for those comments. These are the same comments I
have made for years before Congress, under oath and at numerous events for
retired players and it's become second nature."
He went on to say,
"I don't want to discourage young men from their
love of the game, I just want the game to be safe. What I said were things I
feel, things that happened to me, but obviously it was not the right time or
place ... and I apologize to any of the coaches whom I made uncomfortable at
the event. I wish all those involved in our great sport a long, healthy and safe
The coaches at the camp were very uncomfortable and tried to downplay Barney's comments.
Lem Barney played 11 NFL seasons with the Detroit Lions and is currently involved in a lawsuit against the NFL for not educating players properly about the potential health hazards of playing this violent sport.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell
Lem Barney brings back to focus an even larger issue. It is safety in the game of football. Current NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has instituted policies to limit the head-to-head contact in pro football and hopefully lessen traumatic head injuries and issues after the playing field. That still doesn't mean that it puts an end to injuries in the NFL, and it is still not a big issue of the NFL and society. Goodell told reporters and students at the UNC Chapel Hill's Department of Exercise and Sports Science that,
"The risk of injury in football
is well known. But throughout history, football's evolved and become safer and
better. In recent years, there's become a sharper focus on concussions in
football," Roger Goodell said. "Scientists and doctors know more about
concussions than they did even a few years ago. This is our biggest challenge:
changing the culture to reduce injury risk, especially the risk of head
When I was aware of these comments by Barney on the NFL ending in 10-20 years, I was both shocked and horrified. After a while, I calmed down and looked at this story objectively. The NFL won't come to an end in my opinion. There is too much interest from fans and the media and many people's lives are involved in football. For some it is their livelihood including, obviously, the players. But ultimately, it comes down to money, and much money is to be made in the NFL and football in general.
So you ask me if the NFL will change? Maybe. Will the culture in the NFL and football as a whole change? Maybe somewhat. Will the league cease to exist? Not likely. End of conversation.